Reagan Presidential Library
Simi Valley, California
All photos courtesy E.M. Pio-Roda ©2008 Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Los Angeles, California
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American Morning's John Roberts anchored from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California on Wednesday morning. The site made for an excellent backdrop for AM and for CNN's Republican Debates. Thanks to BA for the clips of JR giving us the grand tour of Air Force One and the Oval Office.
If you're working with Jack Cafferty don't show up late for the broadcast- especially with an excuse like "I had lunch with the President." Evidently, that's the equivalent of saying that the "dog ate my homework".
Monday's Situation Room started off with John King anchoring. Viewers were reassured that Wolf Blitzer would be there soon. Blitzer did show up and it was explained that he had had lunch at the White House (as is tradition on the day of the State of the Union address). Blitzer hasn't master the art of being in two cities at once, so he joined The Situation Room's broadcast as soon as he was able to get from Washington, D.C. to the CNN Election Center in New York. Cafferty wasn't invited to the luncheon and wasn't all that impressed. I've put together a string of the comments that were made during about Blitzer's absence over the course of the three hour broadcast:
Blitzer blogged about the lunch. Did you ever think that you would see Wolf Blitzer blog about what he had for lunch? I'll save you the effort of heading over to CNNPolitics.com- here's his post from yesterday afternoon:
Posted: 04:05 PM ET
This is the final pre-State of the Union reporters' lunch in the Bush White House.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — It's an annual State of the Union Day tradition: the president invites the TV network anchors and Sunday talk show hosts for lunch at the White House. The ground rules are that we can say we went to the luncheon, but the session is for our background only — meaning largely off the record. Still, it's a good way for us to pierce — at least a little — President Bush's thinking.
He comes across as determined to squeeze in as much as he can during this final year in office. It reminded me of what I used to hear from President Clinton when he had a year left. (He used to have similar background sessions with reporters.) They love being president and want to savor every minute.
President Bush does not come across as overly nostalgic — though he no doubt has to feel that way. It would be only natural. There is way too much unfinished business, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; Iran; the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal which he believes is within reach; and the enormous domestic issues on his plate, including the economy. He is laying it all out in his State of the Union address. He professes not to be overly concerned about his legacy. That will be left to historians.
For those of you who are interested, we had lunch upstairs in the White House residence — in the Yellow Oval Office, as it is called. Vice President Cheney also attended. On the menu: mushroom and ricotta ravioli, seared salmon, white asparagus and mini tomato salad, and warm gingerbread cake with praline ice cream. It was delicious. The wine (which I didn't drink because I had to get right back to work) was a 2004 Peter Michael Chardonnay "Ma Belle-Fille."
I spent seven years covering Bill Clinton when he was President, as CNN's Senior White House correspondent. And I have attended several of these luncheons with President Bush. For a reporter, I must say, it is always fascinating getting a chance to see these leaders up close.
–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
Cafferty wasn't the only one that didn't get an invitation to the luncheon. Turns out Lou Dobbs not only didn't get an invitation to the luncheon, he also didn't get an invitation to the White House Christmas party. But, Dobbs was there in spirit, sort of. Turns out there was a discussion at the luncheon about the failed immigration legislation that the White House supported and the White House blames Dobbs for contributing to its failure. Dobbs was thrilled.
Are you planning on watching the ‘Super Bowl’ of Presidential Debates this week? From the CNN Pressroom, here is some additional information about this week's programming:
CNN, the Los Angeles Times and POLITICO are conducting back-to-back presidential primary debates less than one week before Super Tuesday. The Republican debate on Wednesday, Jan. 30, and the Democratic debate on Thursday, Jan. 31, will be the final face-off for the candidates before primary voters in more than 20 states flock to the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Each debate will run approximately 90 minutes beginning at 8 p.m. (ET)/5 p.m. (PT).
Anchor Anderson Cooper will moderate the Republican candidates’ debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Jim VandeHei, executive editor of the POLITICO, and Janet Hook, senior political correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, will serve as panelists questioning the candidates. CNN’s lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer will moderate the Democratic candidates’ debate at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland the following night. Panelists will be Doyle McManus, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, and Jeanne Cummings, a senior correspondent for the POLITICO.
All three partners will provide robust, online elements in conjunction with the debates. The Los Angeles Times will offer readers live analysis at http://latimes.com/campaign08 as well as a “Top of the Ticket” blog, discussion boards and live streaming video direct from the Kodak Theatre. These elements complement the Times’ ongoing news coverage, editorials and analysis intended to aid voters in making informed decisions on Super Tuesday.
For the debates, POLITICO has gathered thousands of questions for the candidates from its readers across the country. Viewers can log on to POLITICO.com during the debates to vote for the questions panelists will ask the candidates. POLITICO.com will also feature a live blog all night from the debate halls, post-debate analysis, behind-the-scenes video, photos and more.
CNN International and CNN en Español will simulcast both debates. Anchor and correspondent Richard Quest will report live from Los Angeles as part of his “American Quest” tour.
Headline News will re-air the Republican debate on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. to noon (ET) and the Democratic debate on Friday, Feb. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon. (ET).
Still want more? CNN is bringing back their Broken Government Series.
CNN Productions plans to produce a series of one-hour documentaries in 2008 under its successful Broken Government brand. As it did in the 2006 midterm election, the series seeks to offer clarity to the political topics receiving close attention during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.
The first documentary in the series, Broken Government: Health Care Critical Condition, is reported by CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Critical Condition will premiere on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 11 p.m., immediately following the CNN/Los Angeles Times/POLITICO Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate and will replay on Saturday, Feb. 2, and Sunday, Feb. 3, at 11 p.m. All times Eastern.
In Critical Condition, Gupta focuses on the gaps in health care coverage experienced by the more than 45 million Americans who lack adequate health insurance. These include consumers with health insurance still vulnerable to bankruptcy by medical bills and the uninsured who cannot afford healthcare. Gupta also examines various health care plan proposals and the pros and cons of universal health care coverage in other countries.
Other Broken Government documentaries in the 2008 series will feature CNN’s Rick Sanchez taking an in-depth look at inconsistent and ineffective U.S. immigration policies; chief technology and environment correspondent Miles O’Brien investigating the impact of government policies on the environment; and a documentary on the government failures at the federal, state and local levels that continue to plague those impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Additional programs in the series will be announced later in the campaign season.
A recent post on Greg Sargent's blog, Horses Mouth Home, confirmed my suspicions that the disappearance of long time regular commentators was not accidental.
Have you noticed anyone missing from the CNN Election Center on primary nights?
For the last several weeks James Carville and Paul Begala have not been seen anywhere near the Election Center or the Situation Room. CNN has removed them as well as Robert Zimmerman from their line up because they are supporting Senator Clinton.
Sam Feist, CNN's political director, also confirmed the decision to me. "As we got closer to the voting, we made a decision to make sure that all the analysts that are on are non-aligned," Feist said, adding that the decision had been made around the start of December. "Carville and Begala are two of the best analysts around and we look forward to seeing them on CNN plenty of times in the future, once the nominating process has ended."
Feist pointed out that a few other analysts aligned with campaigns of both parties had been told the same, and added that aligned analysts would only be appearing in contexts where they were acting as campaign surrogates. Carville did appear on Larry King on Jan. 9 as a surrogate.
Carville and Begala's presence on CNN has led to criticism for the network in the past. A few months ago the liberal blogosphere roundly condemned CNN for presenting them as neutral observers without identifying them clearly and frequently as Hillary supporters. In response to the criticism, CNN started identifying them as Hillary backers.
Interestingly, not everyone at CNN appears to agree with this decision. "People inside CNN are surprised," one person involved with CNN programming told me. "No other network buckled to this political pressure. CNN has removed from its lineup top analysts who know about the national political scene."
I can't say that I've ever mistaken Begala or Carville for unbiased commentators while watching them on CNN. And I've missed the opinions that they could offer during this primary season. Who better to offer an insight into the Clinton political machine than those who once worked for it! I'm disappointed with CNN for not believing that their viewers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves whether or not Zimmerman, Carville, or Begala's analysis is accurate.
I fully expect that political commentators like Bill Bennett, Amy Holmes, Donna Brazile, and Roland Martin are going to be biased. I thought that was the whole point - to offer a variety of viewpoints during the election season and let the viewers make up their own minds.
It would be completely different if they were working for the campaign. Ed Rollins absence is understandable since he's become part of Governor Huckabee's campaign.
I don't think that a commentator having a pubic opinion about the campaign is enough to banish them from the discussion. That's my opinions. What's yours?
Enough of my soap box and onto lighter things. Last weekend, John Zarrella filed a story about a young reporter covering the 2008 Election. Shelby Fallin, who is only 9 years old, reports for Scholastic News. Below is a clip from the report:
This week's Mystery Journalist was a challenge for me. I've struggle to find an appropriate picture that wasn't completely obvious. Yes, this week's Mystery Journalist was Anderson Cooper.
CNN has really stepped up their blogs over the last few weeks. There have been a variety of contributors and hardly a day goes by that there isn't something interesting that pops up.
Yesterday, one of the posts that caught my eye was on the CNN Political Ticker. Photojournalists Derek Davis and Jung Park described their adventures traveling with Governor Huckabee on the campaign trail:
(CNN) – Amid reports that GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's campaign is running low on cash and making cutbacks, embedded CNN photojournalists Derek Davis and Jung Park filed this diary entry just days before the campaign announced it would no longer give journalists an opportunity to buy a ticket and travel with the candidate. This week, the campaign grounded its chartered press airplanes entirely.
A ton of gear, a non-stop schedule, and constant airplane travel. If you’re a CNN photojournalist like me who’s embedded with a presidential campaign, those things are part of a typical day.
Not so typical: an afternoon riding a toilet seat in a propeller plane over South Carolina.
Late last week, we were with the former Arkansas governor as he campaigned in South Carolina in his final push before the GOP primary.
As photographers for CNN, we have the opportunity to witness politics up close, literally to have a front row seat to history in the making. But, politics also means something else to people like us in the trenches: It’s physical. It’s exciting. It’s tough.
Our recent travel with Huckabee took the toughness to new heights. After covering an event where the GOP presidential candidate discussed the economy with South Carolina steel workers, we made our way to the airport and discovered that we’d be flying the rest of the day on a double-propeller, 8-seat airplane. There were a total of three of these planes – one for Huckabee and his staff, and two more for the press traveling with the campaign.
We shared our plane with a crew from CBS News. Once we’d loaded our gear (two cameras, tripods, audio equipment, tapes, boom poles, etc.) and the other crew had loaded its equipment, there wasn’t much room left for us.
I am now much closer to a CBS sound technician than I ever wanted to be – we shared a seat on the flight. But at least I had one.
My colleague Jung wasn’t so lucky. It may have been covered and padded but make no mistake about it, Jung flew all around South Carolina on a toilet. (They did a good job on camouflage: He didn’t know it was a toilet and nobody thought to tell him.) Isn’t cable news glamorous?
On Thursday's American Morning, Veronica De La Cruz did a follow up report about the student that called a school administrator complaining about not getting a snow day. And John Roberts had a thing or two to say about the student's reaction to the attention.
Let us know who you think it is and we'll reveal this journalist's identity in Sunday's post.
CNN’s Senior Business Correspondent and co-host of Your $$$$$ (Money) is on the road in CNN’s Election Express. Ali Velshi will travel from South Carolina to California. Velshi will visit nine states and travel 2600 miles, all in six days. He will stop along the way and talk to the voters about the economy and other issues at the forefront for them. If the weather cooperates look for the CNN Express on Thursday in Abilene, TX, Friday in El Paso, TX, Saturday in Phoenix, AZ and Sunday night in Los Angeles, CA To follow along or to just send Ali a comment the adventure is posted on the CNN Ticker.
In other CNN news Jack Cafferty is appearing with Sue Simmons at 92nd St. Y in NYC on Thursday night. Information about tickets can be found on the CNN Calendar.
Let's start tonight off with a few highlights from the CNN Pressroom:
As CNN Worldwide explores innovative ways to embrace information technology and reach its global audience, the network has hired veteran television executive and producer Randi Subarsky as its new vice president of development, it was announced today by Susan Bunda, executive vice president for content development and strategy for CNN Worldwide.
For this new role at CNN, Subarsky will lead program development teams based in Atlanta and New York City with the challenge of developing news programming across multiple platforms with new technology and viewer outreach. She will also serve as the executive overseeing talent recruitment, special projects and cross-platform initiatives. Based in New York, she will report to Bunda.
Subarsky comes to CNN as a creative and experienced producer in all aspects of programming development, production and marketing with a strong track record of motivating her teams to deliver compelling content across multiple platforms.
“CNN consistently stands out as one of the most innovative brands in the news business, always looking for new and inventive ways to present the news,” Subarsky said. “This is an organization where we can maximize all the talent and experience across numerous broadcasting and digital platforms. I’m very excited to be here.”
Continuing its unprecedented expansion into international newsgathering, CNN Worldwide has appointed Reza Sayah as an international correspondent based in Pakistan, it was announced today by Parisa Khosravi, senior vice president of international newsgathering.
Sayah, an investigative reporter and anchor for WXYZ/Channel 7 in Detroit for the past six years, joins the network as Pakistan recovers from the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and eventually engages in a nationwide election for president.
“Our expansion of personnel in Pakistan is part of our ongoing plan to gather and provide more content for all of CNN, especially since Pakistan remains a very important story on the international scene,” Khosravi said. “Reza has a proven track record of solid reporting in the field and resourcefulness in getting to the critical elements of the story.”
Born in Iran, Sayah speaks English, Farsi and French and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. In addition to WXYZ, Sayah has worked at KOMU-TV in Columbia, Mo., WTAJ-TV in Altoona, Pa., and WTVR-TV in Richmond, Va.
Hill has served as an anchor at Headline News since January 2003, most recently for Prime News with Erica Hill. In addition, she provided news updates for Anderson Cooper 360° since April 2005. She joins Anderson Cooper 360° full-time on Friday, Feb. 1, and will be based in New York.
To read more about Erica's move to Anderson Cooper 360°, check out the post on All Things Anderson.
Endo will serve as a national correspondent and will report live from the scene of breaking news events and from the nation’s capital, providing live reports for more than 800 CNN Newsource partner stations.
Endo comes to CNN Newsource from NY1 where she served as the lead political reporter and has covered a wide array of campaigns, four national political conventions and New York City’s transit strike in 2005. Endo started at NY1 in 1998 as a video journalist and field producer and previously worked at WNBC-TV and interned at ABC News.
And a few other note worthy items....
John King was mentioned in the NY Post's Page Six section on Friday.
CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, has a way to go before marrying his co-worker and sweetheart, congressional correspondent Dana Bash. The Irish Catholic is converting to Judaism before their May wedding. "Yes, it is true," he told Page Six. "I'm studying to convert and will consider inviting you to my bar mitzvah. Mazel tov. On a more serious note, I took a class and am working with a wonderful rabbi in DC, and it has been a remarkably enriching experience."
TVNewser also had two updates to the NY Post article:
And finally tonight, award season is upon us and its no surprise that CNN is receiving quite a collection of nominations:
CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh will be one of the Special Honorees at The New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ) Annual Scholarship & Awards Dinner on Wednesday, February 13th. NYABJ recognizes the best in Print, New Media, Radio, Magazine and Television reporting of issues that affect the Black Diaspora.
Tonight CNN along with The Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute held the Democratic Debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Wolf Blitzer moderated along with Suzanne Malveaux and Joe Johns. The debate was intense tonight and it will only get more intense as we head into Super Tuesday. Here are some photos from the debate.